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Intermodal transportation is defined as transportation of load or person from their original position to their destination by series of at least two transportation modes. An intermodal terminal is where the transfer of one mode to another takes place. Intermodal freight transport is common and involves transportation of freight in a vehicle or an intermodal container by use of multiple modes of transport such as ship, rail and truck. Freight in transit is not handled when changing modes and hence there is significant reduction of losses and damages that occur during cargo handling and also allow faster transportation of freight. A simple intermodal freight transport example if where cargo is picked up at the shipper’s dock at the port. The cargo in a container or intermodal traile is then delivered by truck to a rail terminal and loaded onto a train which transports it thousands of miles. A truck is then used to transport it to its final destination.
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There are many factors that impacted on development of intermodal freight transportation. Focusing on the United States, Japan and Europe, there are various factors that have come together in significant ways to impact on the development of freight transportation enterprise. What is being transported, where to and where from, the mode of transportation are the main driver of these factors. Major changes have occurred in composition and volume of freight moved over long distances. One major factor impacting intermodal transport in the US, Japan and Europe is changes in structure, scale and composition of the global economy. The rapid growth of the global economy has led to increase in demand for transportation services. World economiies have become service oriented and a shift from mass manufacturing in favor of high valued added custom manufacturing has been experienced in the US, Japan and Europe impacting on development of intermodal transportation. The value and character of goods in transit in these countries have changed due to the resulting combination of decreasing material intensity and increasing information content.
Factors that impacted development of intermodal transportation have not been the same in the US, Japan and Europe. Politics has played a major role in development of intermodal transportation. Whereas the US and Japan enjoyed good political backings, Europe has seen lack of realization of political promises impacting negatively on this development. Europe has also been affected by lack of swap and standardization bodies and inferior frequencies contrary to US and Japan.
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